Cats take down Cards at Rupp
LEXINGTON, KY (WAVE) - The University of Kentucky Wildcats allayed fans' fears on Saturday, taking down in-state rival Louisville, 75-73, in a nail-biter at Rupp Arena after a couple of early season stumbles.
Guards Damion Lee for the Cardinals and Tyler Ulis for the Wildcats led the way, scoring 27 and 21 points, respectively.
UK darted to a 13-4 run early, but the visitors stormed back to control much of the opening half. Three-pointers on three straight possessions -- two by Trey Lewis and one by Lee -- lifted Louisville to a 24-19 lead, its largest of the game. It was the first -- and last -- rivalry game for Lewis and Lee, a pair of fifth-year senior transfer players.
Slowly, however, UK turned the momentum around, and once coach John Calipari got a technical foul for protesting a call late in the half, his Wildcats seemed energized. They closed the half on a 14-2 run -- during which Cards coach Rick Pitino also received a technical -- to take a 44-36 lead into the locker room.
UK came out firing again in the second half, stretching its lead to 16 points on an Alex Poythress dunk with 17:53 left. But UofL would chip away and cut its deficit under double figures for good at the 7:13 mark. Lee's layup pulled Louisville to within 65-57 after a pair of Jamal Murray three-pointers for Kentucky.
Dunks by UofL's Donovan Mitchell and Chinanu Onuaku preceded a three by Lee, forcing Calipari to call timeout with his team ahead by only a point, 65-64, with 5:30 left.
Ulis ended Louisville's 28-13 run with a three-pointer, and the Cards would close to within two points twice more, and even had the last possession, but an off-balanced, three-pointer missed the mark.
The Wildcats, now 10-2, will enter conference play on a high note after losing at UCLA and then in Brooklyn to an underwhelming Ohio State team in the run-up to the rivalry game.
Louisville suffered its second defeat, again coming in a road game against a ranked team, after a run of convincing wins against lesser teams and a hard-fought loss at Michigan State on Dec. 2.
Kentucky is now 8-1 against Louisville, including a perfect 4-0 at home, since head coach John Calipari took over.
UK opens the SEC season at home against Ole Miss on Jan. 2. That game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.
The Cardinals' ACC schedule starts with Wake Forest at the Yum Center on Jan. 3 on ESPNU.
While 24,412 people packed into Rupp for Saturday's game those in attendance had a little extra protection. That came thanks to the arena's new security enhancement - a Vapor Wake dog.
The 220 million scent cells of a Labrador allow it to pick up the smell of explosives from a moving person. When the target stops, so does the plume that follows. The dog sits, which alerts the handler to trouble.
"Nowadays you're seeing everything from active shooters, to IEDs that are on people wearing suicide vests or belts, so we need to look at all the avenues that are available to law enforcement to secure our venues," said Joe Monroe, the UK Police Chief.
The dog was used for the first time Saturday.
Copyright 2015 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.